Durban - The eThekwini Metro Municipality paid out more than R750 000 for the funeral of one of Durban’s richest men and a key backer of President Jacob Zuma, it emerged on Wednesday at the municipality’s first executive committee meeting.
This was the first meeting held since the August 3, local government elections when Zandile Gumede was elected mayor.
The R761 150.31 expenditure on Don Mkhwanazi’s funeral was authorised by municipal manager Sibusiso Sithole, apparently while the eThekwini Metro Council was in recess.
The 63-year-old Mkhwanazi died from a suspected heart attack on July 2. His funeral — a lavish affair held at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre eight days later — was attended by several high profile dignitaries and politicians like Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, Congress of SA Trade Unions president Sdumo Dlamini, as well as Zuma’s wife Bongi Ngema Zuma.
However, the expenditure on Mkhwanazi’s funeral has opposition politicians fuming.
“This was one of the richest men in Durban. The maximum poor families will get when they lose a loved one in a disaster is R16 000. What kind of a council is this that spends money on a rich man?” said Zwakele Mncwango, the Democratic Alliance provincial leader.
He said that his party would be calling for an investigation as how the money was spent and whether it was in fact spent on Mkhwanazi’s funeral.
Mdu Nkosi, the Inkatha Freedom Party caucus leader in the municipality, said that in all the years that he had been a councillor since 2006 he could not recall so much being spent on a funeral.
“It’s ridiculous. The person [Mkhwanazi] was well vested in terms of money. There are destitute families who approach the municipality and we turn them away. This is too much.”
He said that he had been informed by Sithole that the money had been spent on hiring the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.
He said he had requested a breakdown of the expenditure and that Gumede had requested that the expenditure not be discussed.
“This is taxpayer’s money. The [African National Congress] ANC are power drunk and have concrete in their ears. They don’t listen to us,” he said.
Mkhwanazi helped to form the Friends of Jacob Zuma trust Zuma was dismissed as deputy president and faced prosecution for corruption before he became president.